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Dec 14 2012

On Political Correctness in Science

Make a criticism of some sort of research that props up a conservative ideology and you’re likely to hear something about political correctness interfering with research. This is true even if your objections are methodological.

However, if you really want to understand what it looks like when political considerations interfere with scientific research, I strongly suggest you watch this talk by Jennifer Oullette from this year’s Skepticon. You’ll have a little perspective to apply to those claims. Also, it’s an interesting talk.

The Perils and the Promise of Psychedelics (Rethinking Wonderland)

5 comments

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  1. 1
    LeftSidePositive

    Cordelia Fine has some total awesomeness about how the Old Guard will insist on reframing methodological criticisms as those of “ideology” or “political correctness”:

    http://blogs.plos.org/blog/2011/02/11/let’s-say-good-bye-to-the-straw-feminist/

  2. 2
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Political correctness interfering with research? Like, stem cell research, for example?

  3. 3
    jose

    They’re always the objective ones, aren’t they? Humble, dispassionate truth seekers whose tradition goes back centuries:

    It has been charged against the views here advanced that they tend to the support of slavery … is that a fair objection to a philosophical investigation? Here we have to do only with the question of the origin of men … we disclaim all connection with any question involving political matters … Naturalists have a right to consider the questions growing out of men’s physical relations as merely scientific questions, and to investigate them without reference to either politics or religion”

    What a noble sentiment! Too bad it was a bunch of lies. Let me be clear though, they would never, ever, suggest anything political out of their humble, impartial investigations:

    “How can there be such a thing as social equality with this wide range of mental capacity? The diflferent levels of intelligence have diflferent interests and require diflferent treatment to make them happy, and we are committing a serious fallacy when we argue that because we enjoy such things, everybody else could enjoy them and therefore ought to have them.

    As for an equal distribution of the wealth of the world that is equally absurd. The man of intelligence has spent his money wisely, has saved imtil he has enough to provide for his needs in case of sickness, while the man of low intelligence, no matter how much money he would have earned, would have spent much of it foolishly and would never have anything ahead.”
    Henry Herbert Goddard 1919 (p 101)

    People are already where they wish to be or where they deserve to be. The poor are poor because they’re retarded and they’re probably happier being poor anyway. Hey, don’t look at me – science has shown it!

  4. 4
    TerranRich, Yet Another Atheist

    @F [disappearing] #2:

    I don’t see where political correctness comes into play there. Conservative ideology is more like it.

  5. 5
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    TerranRich

    They just don’t call it “political correctness”.

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